Climate Change Education

Education – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 21st June 2021.

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Photo of Munira Wilson Munira Wilson Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health and Social Care) 2:36 pm, 21st June 2021

If he will take steps to ensure that pupils who opt out of GCSE geography receive education on climate change.

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education

It is vital that pupils are taught about climate change, which is why related topics are included throughout the geography and science curriculums from five to 14 and five to 16, respectively. That is mandatory in state-maintained schools. Academies must offer a broad and balanced curriculum, as exemplified by the national curriculum.

Photo of Munira Wilson Munira Wilson Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health and Social Care)

I hope the Secretary of State will join me in welcoming my hon. Friend Sarah Green to the Chamber today. I am sure he will agree that it is critical that children and young people learn about the scientific causes and consequences of climate change, and that they are equipped for the future in terms of practical action and the impact on jobs and future careers. With fewer than 50% of GSCE pupils taking geography, what consideration has he given to creating a standalone subject that properly prepares and empowers our young people to engage with climate change?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education

Of course I join the hon. Lady—and, I am sure, all Members—in welcoming a new Member to the House. It is a shame that the few Liberal Democrat MPs who are left could not be bothered to stay for Education questions. Perhaps that shows the priority that the Liberals put on education, compared with Conservative Members and Labour Members as well. It is nice that there is a lone voice on behalf of Liberal England.

It is incredibly important that climate change is taught, and it is vital that it is a key part of the geography curriculum. It is also an incredibly important part of the science curriculum. We know that science is critical to understanding climate change, and all Members of the House are deeply indebted to the former Member for Finchley, and her amazing work in highlighting global climate change in the 1980s, when she was Prime Minister. She was not just speaking to the United Kingdom; she was speaking to the globe. I am sure many Members, including Opposition Members, recognise the amazing work she did in ensuring that we understand climate change and can act on that.